NUJ Rate for the Job
How does a freelance journalist, especially one starting out, know what to charge?
To help, the National Union of Journalists issues a Freelance Fees Guide. Its London Freelance Branch also collects rates actually being paid (using this form), and publishes these in the Freelance newsletter - and here. Accessing these pages constitutes acceptance of our disclaimer.
These are in no sense recommended rates. They are rates reported by freelances, with those individuals' assessment of adequacy; but standards of adequacy vary and the reporters include both highly experienced and less-experienced journalists.
The rates: updated 2021-09-14
|Type of work:||In the "sector": (click or tap below!)|
|Words, per 1000||News||Local||Mag||online||Book||PR||Other|
|Broadcasting||News||Local||Other including podcasting|
|Other:||Cartoons | Crosswords | Illustration | Punditry | Retainer | Teaching | Tip-off | Translation|
|Recently reported rates||all from the past few months
Vital links for freelances:
The amount a writer or photographer gets paid depends on many things: the commercial value of the story or picture to the paper is just one. Another is what the commissioning editor thinks they can get away with.
Most managements, if not editors, would be very pleased to see entire newspapers filled by keen-as-mustard-and totally inexperienced young people who would probably pay to get their by-line in, and don't know what they ought to be paid. If that happens, no-one with experience will be able to afford to stay in journalism. The evidence is that it is happening: many publications are paying freelance journalists less than they did five years ago. This is not good for journalism, and it's not good for a public which depends on experienced journalists to keep it and its decisions informed.
Non-journalists may think that some of these numbers represent a lot of money for what sometimes seems from outside like little work. The highest rates are paid to columnists. Those rates are agreed by hard-headed publishers' accountants on the basis of their expected contribution to profits.
At £100 or even £300 a story, you have to be really dedicated (or have inherited wealth) to invest the many days or weeks it takes to produce a good piece of investigative journalism. And you still wonder why British newspapers contain more and more opinion and less and less news?
And people with regular jobs please note: out of these rates, freelance journalists have to meet our own bills for tax, National Insurance, days off sick, holidays, pensions, phones, cameras, computers, and internet connections - and we need to eat on all the days we're doing general research and proposing projects, too.
- The Union produces a briefing sheet specifically for photographer members to explain to potential clients why they have to charge what they do and why it's worth engaging a proper photographer with proper (and expensive) equipment. Members should contact the Freelance Office to get a copy.